Yesterday, someone from my network had sent out a one-to-many email with a question. Here is the question:
“Can anyone point me towards accurate data about the value of a tweet/retweet, twitter follow, facebook follow, or facebook like? I have no idea what sources are credible and the numbers I am finding are all over the place.”
Today I’m going to answer that question once and for all, but I’m also going to tell you about where that conversation fits.
A new level of discourse
Yesterday, I was lucky enough to attend the exclusive book release party for Mitch Joel’s new book Ctrl + Alt + Delete. The event was hosted at Google’s Headquarters in NYC and featured, not just Mitch Joel, but Seth Godin.
The conversation was fascinating. These two titans of ideas sat on stage an had an exchange covering everything from the baby steps of digital to the potential future impact of robotics and automation. They talked about publishing, they talked education, they talked about data in agriculture.
They engaged the audience in a big conversation, with big ideas.
The new normal, and conversations over the head
In running our True Voice Media, we often meet people that want more likes for their Facebook Page. We often meet people that want to “get better” at using Pinterest. We often meet people that want to know the value of a retweet.
But we want the bigger conversation. We want to get into it. We want to sit down and actually explore how the world has changed and what that means for our client’s business. We’re not looking to plan for the next 6 months, but instead position the company and begin shifting the culture, for the next 6 years.
Where some conversations are about technological and cultural disruption, understanding the new meaning of the word “career,” or rethinking what business looks like over the next decade, others are simply looking to make basic sense of this new world by understanding things through the same lens as before.
What is the value of grasping what’s really happening?
Understanding the past provides interesting context for the future, but when something unprecedented happens, we need to think more deeply.
I get the impulse to find nice, neat, tidy numbers to use, but we’re dealing with unprecedented scale and change. Every single day of each passing week, in each upcoming month of every year, more people have access to the internet. With each new node in this network, we create more data, more perspective and more people are given the chance to create their own future. Once the gatekeeper was removed, the world changed…some people just haven’t caught up to that reality yet.
So instead of assessing this grande, new reality in all it’s splendor, people often want to reduce the conversation to assigning labels and singular values on immeasurable amounts of data being generated from countless circumstances.
To answer the question
There is not a single number to point to. While it would be nice if it were packaged and easy like that, there are too many variables to create a single accurate figure for any social signal. Any data that you find in aggregate is likely deeply flawed and inapplicable to individual situations. For more on that, listen to Tom Webster’s appearance on the Six Pixels Podcast called Stats, Lies and Data.
Companies all have different audiences. Margins vary greatly across industries. How effectively organizations markets through social media will alter the value per audience member.
Even if you could find “data” there is too much mystery in attribution because of the difficulty in measuring certain events. If you ask on Facebook: “what’s the best eReader to buy” and 15 people comment, 10 of which say Kindle Paperwhite and you go to Google or Amazon to buy one, there is (currently) no way to attribute that sale to a Facebook interaction without a ton of manual searching.
The answer to that question is that there is no answer to that question. Every company is different, every circumstance is different, the variables are too great in number. It will, likely, always be this way.
Let’s start by asking about the value of our own tweets.
Are we PROVIDING value with our own content?
Are we providing value, connection and engagement with each person that follows us or likes us?
Let’s ask more questions about how to do something amazing for our audiences.
Let’s ask more questions about using social tools to become more customer centric.
Let’s look for ways to use social tools to create a more engaged workforce and lower employee turnover.
In short, let’s stop looking at our clients, prospects, employees and followers as wallets with Twitter accounts, and start looking at them as people with inherent value.